Species diversity at the Panguana biological research station and conservation area
Panguana and its surroundings are a true hotspot of biodiversity
For all of Germany with its area of c. 357,000 km² (less than 138,000 sq. miles), the number of bird species breeding is only 254. Within the much larger area of Europe only 27 species of bats have been recorded. A species previously unknown from Peru, but found at Panguana in 2011, is the Short-eared Bat, Cyttarops alecto. This record marks the southernmost occurrence of the species, far away from its previously known distribution range in Central to northern South America.
Dr. Andreas Schlüter
of the State Museum for Natural History in Stuttgart (Germany)
has shown that amphibians and reptiles are highly diverse at Panguana, as the distribution areas of many species
Although Panguana has been studied for so many years, and amphibians and reptiles have received special attention from the start,
herpetologists did not discover any salamander there until 2013. Nauta Salamanders (Bolitoglossa altamazonica) are inconspicuous and active at night only. Moreover, salamanders in are generally rare in Amazonia. Thus, it was quite sensational to find such animals at Panguana. Whether or not the species really is B. altamazonica will be worked out using molecular methods in cooperation with the Museum of Natural History in Lima.
Nauta Salamanders (Bolitoglossa altamazonica) do not have lungs but breathe through their skin, Photographs: Stefan Friedrich
The following video, taken at Panguana in 2014 by photographer Konrad Wothe, shows the archaic way in which these small, camouflage colored animals walk:
Specialists estimate the numbers of Microlepidoptera species in the area as 12,000 to 15,000. The causes for such high diversity may be small species-specific distribution areas and the particular geographic position between the Andes and the Sira Mountains, as assumed for many other local faunal elements. The spectrum of odonates at Panguana with its more than 80 species already exceeds the corresponding one for all of Germany. Panguana’s 520 recorded species of ants – a group of critical importance in the rainforest ecosystem – constitute the highest diversity among all comparable faunas worldwide.
The forest at Panguana is home to many exceptional palms and other trees. Often, the given species is only present in few individuals that stand far apart from each other; such distributions are typical for the tropical lowland rainforest.
The fruit of Aguaje palm trees (Mauritia flexuosa) are very popular food in Amazonia when they are ripe and red (near top of left image); right image: fruit in verdant state